Nutrition can be complicated and it’s really easy to be confused about what dietary approach is best. Should you go keto? Is intermittent fasting the best option to lose that stubborn fat? What the fuck is paleo and am I saying it right?
This post outlines three simple nutrition strategies you can implement right away that will help you look and feel better.
- Instead of Only Focusing on Subtracting Foods You Shouldn’t Eat (Why Can’t Bread Have the Superfood Qualities of Kale?!) Focus on Foods You Can Add to Make Meals Healthier
A personal example of mine is adding a metric ton of spinach into an Italian sausage, potato, onion casserole (topped with fried or poached eggs). When it comes to your protein options, ground Italian sausage (and other cured meats) are the bottom of the barrel in terms of quality compared to ground turkey, grass fed beef, etc. However, Italian sausage is simply one of my favourite foods and since I rarely eat pasta anymore (Italian sausage sauce is my favourite) this recipe helps to satisfy that craving. It’s not the healthiest meal – but by adding a few handfuls of chopped spinach I’m at least getting a few servings of greens in.
Similarly, spinach is a great add in to smoothies. You can cram quite a bit in to one and it doesn’t change the flavour (only the colour).
Spinach is rich in Vitamin K, Vitamin A, iron, Vitamin B2 & B6, magnesium, and potassium. It’s also a quality source of protein.
Another example of this strategy is if you’re trying to cut down on your pop intake. Don’t quit cold turkey, but gradually try and decrease how much you’re drinking, while focusing on improving your daily water intake. This is sound advice for any eating habit, or habit in general. If you try to make too much change too fast you’re very likely to fall off the wagon (or is it on the wagon).
If there are any hard-core Seinfeld fans reading this you’ll know that reference.
- Drink a Protein Shake 15-20 Minutes Before You Eat a Meal
Rivalus Promasil is my preferred protein supplement of choice because it’s essentially just protein (24 g of protein per scoop, with just 1 g of carbs and 1 g of fat). Unless you’re really looking to add mass – read your protein supplement label carefully – you want a protein supplement that’s essentially just protein. There’s lots of good options available that fit the criteria, including some vegan ones.
Taking a protein shake a little before a meal will help you stop from overeating. The timing of it is to allow for your brain to realize that it’s taken in some calories once the digestion process has begun. This is the same reason it’s a good idea to slow down when you’re eating because if you eat too quickly you won’t feel full until it’s too late.
- Coffee & BCAA’s Can Help You Stick With Your Intermittent Fasting
I’m not going to go in depth on what IF is or the pros and cons of it in this particular post. I had never really done it consistently until this past January when I adhered to it completely the entire month. I got great results in leaning out, and honestly only found it difficult the first couple days, and then a few random days over the course of the month. (I stuck to a 2-10 pm eating window throughout)
I also lifted every day in a fasted state (I generally trained between 11 am and noon). I was surprised to find my ability to build strength was no different. What really helped curb my hunger beforehand was waiting until about 10 am or a little later to have a black coffee. My advice would be to try to time it so you have it a little before you feel hungry. It’s definitely a miserable experience (and an effort in futility) to train when you feel hungry. The caffeine serves great as your pre-workout.
Another good strategy to curb your hunger is to drink green tea. I only did this a couple times, as I’m not a huge fan of the stuff but if you’re not like me and you enjoy it, knock yourself out as it can help satisfy your desire to have something with a little flavour in the morning and this can go along way in keeping hunger pangs away.
Then when it was time to train, I would sip on my BCAA (branch chain amino acids) drink throughout my lift. The reason you want to do this, is to avoid going in to protein degradation mode. Your body hasn’t had protein in a long time, and so by replenishing the branch chain amino acid pool in the blood during your training session your body won’t go into a catabolic state. (A catabolic state is a fancy way of saying your body is breaking down muscle, while on the contrary, an anabolic state means it is building muscle).
I hope one of, or all of these strategies, can be of use to you if you’re making an effort to eat healthier to reach your goals, whatever those may be!